Calp is a totally normal Spanish town until you see the huge rock rising 300 meters straight from the sea.
Calp (also known as Calpe) is a lovely seaside town situated on Spain’s Costa Blanca, known for the Penon D’ifach, said rock rising straight from the ocean. It looms over the entire town, vaguely imposing but also stunning.
Although the seaside resort town is pretty popular among tourists from Europe, it still retains its Spanish charm, and is hardly overrun. The mountains surrounding it creates a mild climate for Calp all year long. Which means that no matter what time of year you come, it’ll never be too crowded and the weather will always be nice.
Convinced that you need to come to Calp yet? Read on for my Ultimate Guide to Calp.
How to Get There
You can get to Calp from either the Alicante airport or the Valencia airport.
From Alicante: If you want to take public transport, you can take a bus that will take roughly 2 hours, or a tram that takes roughly 3 hours. Or you could hire a taxi or rent a car and that would get you there in about an hour.
From Valencia: It’ll take you longer from Valencia, you’d need to take the bus for 4.5 hours or drive yourself in a rental car for 1.5 hours.
How to Get Around
Once in Calp, you can either take taxis or get by in a rental car to get around the city.
This sandy beach offers fantastic views of the giant rock that Calp is known for. The waters are calm, the sand fine, and the people few. I found it to be quite secluded at sunset, which is a rarity for Spain’s Southern coast.
If you look closely at the picture above you’ll see a body of water nestled in the corner of the land. That is the saltmines of Calp. Historically, these salt stores are what helped Calp in the fishing industry; the salt helped preserve the fish. Nowadays, it is home to many unique forms of wildlife, most notably the flamingo!
Yeah every European city has an old town, but what makes Calp Old Town stand out is the locals’ concerted effort to inject a certain sort of whimsy into the place. There are fish decorations hanging in alleyways (as Calp used to be a fishing town), tiled murals on walls, and even the ground is decorated like these set of stairs tiled with the colors of the Spanish flag. It’s a lovely place to walk around.
Puerto Blanco Beach
Unlike the Arenal-Bol beach, this beach is covered in white pebbles and is rather short. I’m not sure how good it is for sunbathing because unless you bring a chair it might be rather uncomfortable but it’s a good diving spot.
This is the main attraction of Calp, and for good reason. The Penon D’Ifach rock rises 300 meters above sea level and looms over the entire city. You can admire it from afar, or choose to hike up it, which is what I did.
If you’re going to hike, start at the visitor’s center, where you can also learn about the various species of wildlife that are unique to the park. To get to the trail, there’s a turnstile, but don’t worry, admission is actually free – the turnstile is just to count the number of visitors to the park.
When you start hiking, the trail will look like the picture above. It’s relatively easy and the first part of the hike should only take about half an hour or so. You could probably do this part of the hike in sandals even.
When you get to the end of this part of the hike, the view is already spectacular. It’ll look a little something like this.
From this point, you can proceed to the second part of the trail if you wish. In order to progress, you have to go through this tunnel literally drilled through the rock. It’s really slippery, so I’d recommend holding onto the ropes on the sides of the tunnel and being careful!
I don’t have any pictures of the second half of the trail because we didn’t hike it – it was getting dark and the second half is much harder than the first. There are no railings on the second half, and the drops are far more sheer, so I would only recommend hiking it if you’re fit, wearing appropriate hiking attire, and there’s plenty of daylight left. If you do go up, you will be rewarded with the most beautiful view.
The area around the visitor center also offers a pretty good view of the surrounding ocean and coastline as well, plus this little dock.
Queen’s Bath (Baños de la Reina)
This is a leftover bath from the Ancient Roman times. While it used to be an ancient seaside resort, now it’s just a few crumbling walls submerged in water. However, you can still swim in this bath!
Path Around Penon D’Ifach
I’m not sure what this one is called but in between Puerto Blanco Beach and the Peñon D’Ifach is a walkway that goes around the entire rock. Since it is right next to the ocean, its a lovely place to just take a stroll and admire the view.
The Ruins of Pobla d’Ifach
This was a medieval town, constructed during 1325 for the Admiral to the Crown of Aragon. Now all that’s left are a few crumbling ruins. Funnily enough, we stumbled across these on our way to the Peñon D’Ifach after we couldn’t find the start of the trail and forged our own instead.
This amazing architectural structure was designed by architect Ricardo Bofill and is super photogenic. However, this isn’t a tourist site, but actually an apartment complex, and recently they have gotten much stricter about random visitors. If you would like to take pictures inside the Muralla Roja, you will have to book an AirBnB there, which you can do here and here.
Jávea / Xàbia
Javea (or Xàbia, as it is sometimes referred to, I have no clue what’s up with this region of Spain and having multiple names for cities) is a lovely laid back beach town about 40 minutes away from Calp by car. It’s neither off the beaten path nor a tourist hot spot, so you can enjoy the fact that there is just the right amount of people there. It’s filled with cute beachy restaurants and hidden coves. Be sure to visit Playa de la Granadella, a white pebbly beach where you can kayak to sea caves from.
I think of Altea as the Santorini of Spain, because of its white washed houses, blue domed roofs, flowery facades, and dazzling ocean views. It’s everything you love about Santorini, minus all the tourists and fame! Only a 16 minute drive from Calp, you’d be insane to not go!
Read more in: Altea: The Santorini of Spain
If you’re looking for nightlife, Benidorm is the place to go. It’s chock full of bars, clubs, and theme parks. It’s much more of a typical touristy destination, with flashy attractions and high end nightlife. If you’re into that, it’s only a 25 minute drive from Calp.
If you like colorful facades and places like Burano and Cinque Terre, then you’re in for a treat because a mere 30 minute drive from Calp is Villajoyosa, a brightly painted masterpiece of a town. Believe it or not, the picture taken above was taken right next to the beach, so you can sit at a colorful beachfront restaurant and enjoy paella with a view.
Haters will say it’s photoshopped, but it’s 100% real! The town of Torrevieja is home to two colorful lakes – one is bright turquoise and the other bright pink! Unlike Las Coloradas, which is being drained right now and has gained a ton of attention online, this lake is still relatively undiscovered! However this one is a bit more of a drive – an hour and 30 minutes away from Calp.
What did you think of the guide to Calp? Did I leave anything out? Was it helpful? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!